The lounge, situated on the Main Deck, is the hub of the ship's modest entertainment scene. Inside the entrance is the L-shaped bar, with stools around the edge, and a novel foot rest running along the lower edge that is made out of a heavy duty nautical chain. The bar stays open until at least midnight.
Drinks are served with an assortment of complimentary nuts and nibbles (readily provided if they are not already on the bar). The bar tariff is inexpensive, with wine from €3 a glass or €14.50 a bottle, beer from €2.70 and mixed drinks such as gin and tonic priced at €5.50. There is also a cocktail list with drinks starting at €7. Tea and coffee is €1.50 and €2 respectively, with speciality coffees priced at €3.
There is no set programme of onboard lectures, guest speakers or cultural performances, but passengers can expect an informative commentary by the cruise director in the lounge when passing through places of interest, such as the picturesque Middle Rhine region that's home to the legendary Lorelei Rock.
A resident entertainer plays during the morning coffee break and after dinner. On our cruise there was a talented guitarist who also sang and performed a programme of popular jazz and classic hits, mainly from the '50s, '60s and '70s. Things came alive at the captain's party and talent night, especially when Captain Wido took the microphone and showed off his considerable vocal skills that soon had the majority of passengers on the small dance floor. Guests with a yearning to perform can also take part, and on our cruise, one enthusiastic volunteer sang a couple of witty songs and invited everyone to join in the choruses.
A daily crossword can be picked up from the reception desk, with the answers shown the next day, and other entertainment might include bingo and quizzes.
Unlike most river vessels, no shore excursions are included in the fare. Passengers can book them in advance for a small saving, or book them on a day-to-day basis onboard. At least one trip, occasionally two, is offered each day. The majority combine coach travel to a place of interest, followed by a slow-paced walking tour. Led by the cruise director and cruise manager, the excursions on our cruise included a visit to the Ahr Valley wine region for a tasting session followed by a stroll through the pretty walled town of Ahrweiler. In Rudesheim, there was a road train trip into town followed by a guided walk to see the highlights, taking in Siegfried's Mechanical Museum and a cable car ride to the imposing Niederwald Monument.
Decorated in warm tones of red and gold, with an abundance of brass and wood fixtures, the ship has a very snug feeling throughout. Decorations include globes, ships' wheels, model boats, maritime paintings and other assorted nautical memorabilia.
The small reception desk is located midship on the upper Promenade Deck. Here passengers can book excursions, chat to the cruise director and cruise manager and pick up maps and information on forthcoming ports of call.
Located forward, next to reception, is the combined bar and lounge that forms the heart of the ship. Passengers are responsible for hanging up their cabin door keys on corresponding numbered brass hooks opposite the bar. As there is no room for a separate crew mess, there is a dedicated crew table in this area where the crew members relax when they are taking a break or off duty. They eat their main meals in the restaurant, after the passengers have left.
The ship's bell, a focal point in front of the bar, is used to announce lunch and dinner. Any passengers tempted to ring it are told it signals their intention to buy a drink for everyone in the lounge!
There is ample seating on sofas and armchairs set around the perimeter of the lounge. Next to the dance floor, in the centre of the lounge, are several higher tables and chairs, suitable for playing cards. Next to these tables is a TV, normally set to a news channel at low volume in the morning. At other times there is easy-listening background music.
A flight of steep stairs opposite the reception desk lead to the Main Deck, where there is a small shop selling jewellery, accessories and souvenirs, with a similar flight leading to the restaurant on the Passenger Deck. New stairlifts were recently installed on both staircases. There is no elevator and the vessel is not suitable for wheelchair users.
A door by reception opens onto stairs leading to the sun deck, and there is also a stairlift. A pleasant spot to sit on warm days, the deck is furnished with sun loungers and attractive wicker seats and tables, and there is a covered seating area that is good for watching the passing scenery in colder weather. Blankets are not provided so it's best to take layers and warmer clothes to enjoy the outdoor deck. Smoking is permitted on the sun deck.
WiFi is available in the lounge, and as is common on other river vessels the signal can sometimes be patchy or nonexistent. Charges for Wi-Fi access range from €1 for 100 MB to €10 for 1 GB.
There are two exercise bikes in the covered area on the sun deck (we didn't see anyone use them during our cruise). The most popular form of exercise is a leg stretch on the sun deck or a stroll along the riverbank. The ship does not have a spa.
There are no facilities for children and the cruises are geared towards mature and retired passengers. However, the triple-berth cabins would be an option for a couple with a child (which may happen very occasionally during school holidays), or three older family members travelling together.